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Social Wellness Steps into the Spotlight

by Laura Powell

According to the 2023 Global Wellness Institute’s (GWI) annual trend report, the future of wellness lies in its social component. That’s why it’s no surprise to discover there’s been a recent surge in social wellness clubs designed to create community and promote interpersonal interaction.

In her Global Wellness Summit keynote, Anna Bjurstam, wellness pioneer at Six Senses, said, “Life has changed, we’ve changed, our needs have changed, people are looking for new places to connect...to have space to work and belong.”  That’s why, she said, “all-day social spaces/clubs that provide wellness and workspace become a huge opportunity.”

The general public seems to agree. Consumer surveys reveal a shift in interest from solo activities to social wellness. Mindbody recently found that 43 percent of people view community as a very important part of wellness experiences.

Of course, the social wellness club concept isn’t brand new. Pioneers in this space included Soho House and Equinox. SoulCycle was one of the early examples of forging fitness with tribe building. The founders of SoulCycle have started Peoplehood. The centerpiece of the concept—60-minute guided group conversations where each person gets a chance to “talk freely and listen deeply”—is to change old habits and build new connections.

The GWI report also mentions Othership, a Toronto-based social bathhouse experience. Programming includes communal breathwork, sauna-bathing and guided ice baths. Groundfloor, a membership club in San Francisco, includes a wellness studio and an outdoor gym, along with a social lounge where supper clubs, comedy shows and art classes take place. In New York City, Sage + Sound is a new wellness social center offering spa treatments and daily classes. The latter take place in The Study, a dedicated space offering mental fitness programming and experiential rituals. Although mainly a medical wellness spa, Remedy Place in New York and Los Angeles stages community events, such as cinema nights, mocktail happy hours, communal ice bathing and sauna lounging.

The hospitality industry is also getting into the social wellness world. Ultra high-end hotel brands like Six Senses and Aman are among the brands opening members-only clubs in urban areas. While most of the hotel/health hybrids are designed for the wealthy, a more democratic and inclusive social wellness model can be discovered at Eaton DC in the nation’s capital. The hotel has regular programming featuring a diverse range of speakers, writers, artists and musicians, while the spa offers wellness workshops and community events like sound bathing, yoga and meditation. Everything is open to all—no pricey membership required.

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